Weed warriors unite for the 8th annual Invasive Species Cook-off

By Michel Wiman, photos by Owen Dell

August 2019

Nonnative plant infestations are a huge struggle for land managers and community members alike. We spend hours pulling weeds from our gardens, and time and resources mowing them from our farms, roadsides, and natural areas. Natural resource professionals often watch as their control efforts are overwhelmed by pervasive plants. Research in 2005 reported that invasive species cost the US more than $120 billion each year, in addition to the loss of wildlife and pollinator habitat and reduced plant diversity. Here at the Institute for Applied Ecology, we take the serious issue of nonnative plant invasions and try to have fun with it in order to increase community awareness. We gather annually for the Invasive Species Cook-off Fundraiser and Contest to bring the perils of invasive plants to the table, quite literally! The 8th Annual Invasive Species Cook-off Contest Fundraiser, held on Saturday August 3 at Tyee Wine Cellars, was no exception.

Brian Benson of Tyee Wine Cellars providing perfect wine pairings for Kalamata Bistro's Mediterranean feast

Event sponsors Friends of OSU Old Growth and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department raising awareness of invasive species

Tyee Wine Cellars was a perfect venue for this event as they have restored some of their acreage

Many creative, delicious entries were brought to the Cook-off Contest table this year, featuring the plant invaders that are the bane of gardeners, farmers, and land managers. Winning entries included Himalayan Blackberry Bruschetta with Purslane by Randall Bonner; Mint and Poblano Cream Cheese Dip by Erika Stewart; and in the beverage competition, Sweet Mint and Lemon Iced Tea by Erika Stewart, Blackberry Blonde Ale by Matt Bahm, and Bittersweet Magpie Left Coast Sangria with Lemon balm by Jane Svoboda. Guests were able to sample Contest entries, and contestant creativity never ceases to delight everyone who attends!

Kalamata Bistro showcased an array of invasive plants for the Mediterranean dinner, including Muhammara with Burdock Root, and Tzatziki with Sheep Sorrel. Tyee Wine Cellars was a very accommodating host of the festivities, which included rousing bluegrass from the local band Rusty Hinges, henna skin art from Kailyn Kubiak, as well as an invasive Japanese beetle piñata for the kids made by Anna Ramthun.

The discerning 2019 Cook-off Contest Judges!

Raffle prizes were donated by local businesses, and silent auction items included a guided kayak tour by Cary & Lori Stephens and framed print by Frances Stilwell

Guests line up for facepainting by Stacy Moore, and henna skin art by Kailyn Kubiak

Purslane, the bane of many gardeners and farmers, is delicious in this salad entry by Chris Bentley

Katarina Lunde dishes up dessert samples. Thanks for volunteering, Katarina!

Chris Highfield and Bryan Guerena of Rusty Hinges enchanted the crowd with their bluegrass

IAE Assistant Executive Director Carolyn Menke presents Randall Bonner with his first-place award for Himalayan Blackberry Bruschetta with Purslane

We thank all of our contest entrants: Debbie Johnson, Brad Loveland, Paul Heimowitz, Jana Svoboda, Matt Bahm, Chris Bentley, Randall Bonner, Matthew Kleiner, and Erika Stewart. And we couldn’t host this without our discerning Contest Judges: Matt Slaughter, Jesse Mitchell, Chris Parson, Victor Berthelsdorf, Andrew Esterson, Ben Axt, Brad Loveland, Molly Monroe, and Ken Bierly.

IAE volunteers are our heroes:  Loree Rose, Owen Dell, Karl Hartzell, Katarina Lunde, Daniel Extrom, Brad Loveland, Desirae Wrathall, Abby Metzger, and Chris Parson. Thank you!

Our gratitude also goes to our generous Cook-off Sponsors: Earthfort LLC, Oregon State Parks, Friends of OSU Old Growth, Seven Oaks Native Plant Nursery, Heritage Seedlings, and Barker Uerlings Insurance. Donations for silent auction and raffle were provided by Cary and Lori Stephens, Frances Stillwell, Live Well Yoga, Del Alma Restaurant, Corvallis Environmental Center, 2Towns Ciderhouse, Little Gym of Corvallis, Oregon Bach Festival, Grass Roots, Running Princess, McMenamins, Many Hands Trading, Septembeerfest and Restyle. A special thank you to Owen Dell of Dell’Immagine Photography.

We hope you can join us at next year’s Invasive Species Cook-off!

Some took a tour of Tyee's restored wetlands

A handcrafted Japanese beetle pinata made by Anna Ramthun, Natural Resource Specialist at the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde

Guests enjoyed a Mediterranean dinner from The Kalamata Bistro

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